What Is DevSecOps?

5min. read

You’ve probably heard of DevOps, but what about DevSecOps? DevSecOps refers to the concept of making software security a core part of the overall software delivery process.

To understand why this is important, it’s necessary to think about how software security used to work. Traditionally, software security operations were performed separately from the other processes required to produce software. Developers wrote code, and IT teams deployed it without thinking much about security. It was only after software was written and placed in production environments that security engineers would check for potential vulnerabilities in the code or the environments hosting it.

This approach to software security is highly inefficient – especially in cloud environments, where the speed of deployment is accelerated. If a security problem were detected, it would often require withdrawing code that had already been written and deployed. This also meant problems often went undetected until after the software was already in production, leaving organizations exposed to security threats.

DevSecOps, aka “shift left” security, addresses these problems by integrating security into all stages of the software delivery process. This ensures that developers think about security when they write code, that software is tested for security problems before it is deployed, and that IT teams have plans for addressing security issues quickly if they appear after deployment.

DevSecOps Builds on DevOps
DevSecOps is not an alternative to DevOps. It simply extends the core concept behind DevOps – the idea that developers and IT teams should work together closely, instead of functioning separately, in silos – to include security. Effective DevSecOps means embracing DevOps and integrating security into the full CI/CD development pipeline.

DevSecOps Is a Culture, Not a Tool
Many tools and processes can help an organization achieve DevSecOps, but ultimately, DevSecOps is not a specific tool or process. It’s a culture.

DevSecOps boils down to instilling the right cultural values in an organization. Developers, IT teams, security specialists and everyone else involved in software delivery must be on board with the idea that software security should be at the forefront of everything they do. Before making any decision related to an application, your entire team should think about the security implications. If they do, you’ve achieved DevSecOps.

Implementing DevSecOps
Of the possible routes to achieving DevSecOps, the best one – or the ideal combination – for your organization will depend on your needs. In general, these are the strategies that will help you implement a DevSecOps culture in your organization:

  • Education: Make sure all stakeholders in the software delivery process understand modern security threats and the importance of addressing them.

  • Communication: Build effective communication channels between all team members so that they can share information about security issues quickly.

  • Security playbooks: Develop “playbooks” that specify how different team members should respond to a given type of security incident.

  • Audits and compliance: Make security audits and compliance checks a routine part of the software delivery process.

  • Adopt the right tools: Look for API-based cloud security tools that will help you automate the enforcement of security and compliance policies in the cloud.

Making Developers Care About Security
When trying to implement DevSecOps, most organizations get the biggest resistance from their developer teams. The question is: How can you convince developers to care about security, add it to their workload and learn the skill set?

This is where the right tool can serve as a catalyst for your DevSecOps transformation. By implementing tools that leverage cloud provider APIs to automate policies, developers can learn as they go and avoid making harmful mistakes. You can leverage cloud native tools to automate policies in AWS. However, if you use a multi-cloud deployment, are bound by strict compliance regulations, or have an AWS environment that’s expanded to more than a few accounts, you’ll likely need a third-party tool to do this effectively and manage everything on one console. For tips on selecting the right tool, check out this blog post.

To hear a firsthand account of how DHI Group successfully created a DevSecOps culture, check out this blog post: From ‘DevOps vs. SecOps’ to DevSecOps.

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